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Everything is green

Eggs/bacon. Love/marriage. Angelina Jolie/YOUR NAME HERE. There are some things that just go together well. Matt Broughton examines the coupling of Greentube and Novomatic.


ollowing the recent acquisition by Novomatic, online games developer Greentube, now finds itself in the enviable position of having the entire Novomatic slots portfolio land in a

very large metaphorical Jiffy bag on its doorstep.

The word ‘synergy’ is used all too often in

business, but when you look at the ramifications of Greentube becoming part of the Novomatic Group, you realise very quickly that this transforms the shape of business for both parties. The benefits are huge; Greentube gives Novomatic the ability to have an online interactive division that’s been operating successfully for ten years; with the perfect client server and technical infrastructure in place to service operators. It seems to be a win- win situation.

For Greentube, Novomatic’s acquisition gives the company enormous additional strength in terms of being able to increase speed of growth, not only through financial investment, but also via access to more than 30 years of experience

in land based casino operations and the huge library of Novomatic games. Greentube now has a list of immensely successful Novomatic content that they are in the process of developing for online and mobile. in the Novomatic portfolio, there is enough content to keep Greentube busy for a couple of years at least – and that’s besides the work the company is already doing, as the Greentube say they are increasing the number of games in their 3D line-up.

Schnapsen! 3D products have been an

area of great success for Greentube. ‘Ski Challenge’ was initially developed by the company in 2004 and is now in its sixth season, having attracted more than six million unique players from around the world, producing nearly 1.5 billion online races. However, Greentube’s initial focus was a long way from the Piste. Greentube itself was established as a games developer in 2000, with a specific focus on multiplayer skills games. Like all the companies in the casual entertainment business, they did try different business models to monetise output. If a casual or skill gaming company wants customers and wants to link payment to any kind of scenario, Greentube quickly realised they needed that in place technically as well as conceptually.

Greentube began with the

simplest technical option, which was a subscription model for cards

32 APRIL 2011

and sports games. This offered unlimited access to play on a monthly subscription basis. Of course, charging by-play or having cash wagered on individual games sessions requires an increased level of technical ability, a level the company reached relatively quickly, starting with card and board games at a local national level in Austria and German-speaking markets. The next step was expanding to an international level simply by taking the internationally-successful generic games like Backgammon, Mah Jong, Solitaire, and adding national specialist products; ‘Schnapsen’ for Austria, ‘Ulti’ for Hungary, ‘Belote’ for France, and so on.

With their Austrian roots, a

skiing game was a natural starting point for their 3D sports game

development – just like if it were a UK company it might be football, or baseball for a US company. A lot of Ski Challenge’s success seems to be a matter of accessibility. Greentube has successfully targeted the mass market because their games are easy to learn, and in particular the controls for a downhill skiing game are accessible even to non-gamers. Easy to learn, hard to perfect – you have to keep people wanting more, and the difficulty of a game is key to ongoing success, something Greentube appears to have mastered already.

The length of a ski run (or a race track, or indeed anything with ‘game miles’) also leads to another of Greentube’s successes: in-game advertising. For one thing, a downhill ski run without advertising is simply not an accurate representation of its appearance in the real world. Another thing is, it’s a potential revenue

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